Japanese car brands dominate reliability survey

The reputation of Japanese car manufacturers for reliability is as strong as ever, according to the results of the latest What Car? survey.

The study of more than 14,000 vehicles aged 0-3 years revealed that, of the 10 most reliable brands, an impressive six were Japanese brands, with Lexus at the top.

In five out of 10 vehicle segments, the most reliable cars were also manufactured by Japanese brands.

The Toyota Aygo, Honda Jazz and Lexus CT200h topped the city car, small car and family car categories respectively – and all were reported to be fault-free by owners. The only other car to achieve this was the Audi A3 saloon.

Mitsubishi’s Outlander topped the large SUV class for dependability, while the Nissan Leaf is the most reliable way to travel using electricity with a 93.9% reliability rating.

German models proved to be the biggest challengers to the Japanese, with the Volkswagen Tiguan diesel, Audi A3 saloon and Audi A3 Cabriolet all taking gold in their respective categories.

Most reliable cars by category:

Category Make/Model Year Reliability rating (%)
City cars Toyota Aygo 2014-present 100.0%
Small cars Honda Jazz 2015-present 100.0%
Family cars Lexus CT200h 2011-present 100.0%
MPVs Ford B-Max 2012-present 91.6%
Small SUVs Volkswagen Tiguan (diesel) 2016-present 96.3%
Large SUVs Mitsubishi Outlander 2012-present 91.2%
Executive cars Audi A3 Saloon (petrol) 2013-present 100.0%
Luxury cars Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloon diesel 2013-2017 93.2%
Coupes and convertibles Audi A3 Cabriolet (petrol) 2014-2016 92.5%
Electric vehicles Nissan Leaf 2011-present 93.9%

Owners of 0-3 year-old cars were asked to report on faults which occurred in the last 12 months, classified into 14 categories: battery, bodywork, brakes, engine, engine electrics, exhaust, exterior lights, fuel system, gearbox/clutch, interior trim, non-engine electrics, steering, suspension and other.

Overall, 30% of the 14,208 participants revealed they had experienced a fault with their car in the last 12 months.

“Japanese brands continue to lead by example when it comes to reliability; the breadth of vehicles with near-faultless scores highlights the engineering prowess of Far Eastern manufacturers,” said Steve Huntingford, editor at What Car?

“It is also encouraging to see that German car manufacturers are backing up their reputation for quality with strong reliability scores.

“It goes to show that the old adage that cars are getting more complicated and harder to fix needn’t be an anxiety – as long as consumers choose the most reliable model they’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of the latest technology without the fear of their car letting them down.”

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